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Nonprofit arts generated over $1 billion for CT. 'Not only nice,' but necessary, advocates say

Artist JAHMANE working at the Firing Circuits artists colony Oct. 1, 2020, Norwalk, Connecticut.
Julianne Varacchi
Connecticut Public
Artist JAHMANE working at the Firing Circuits artists colony Oct. 1, 2020, Norwalk, Connecticut.

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Americans for the Arts recently released their “Arts & Economic Prosperity 6,” or AEP6 report. The detailed report offers a national perspective of the state of the arts.

In 2022, researchers gathered information in from 373 regions across the United States, including Puerto Rico. They also did a a phone survery of nearly 250,000 individuals.

The study focused on nonprofit arts and culture organizations, and their value to both the economy and society in communities nationwide. It found that the arts added $73 billion to the nation's economy in 2022. In Connecticut, the sector brought in nearly $1 billion in economic activity — roughly $606 million in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations, combined with around $348 million in event-related spending by their audiences — things like parking, going to a restaurant before the event, or a hotel.

“These are not the kind of jobs that are going to be shipped overseas,” said Randy Cohen, vice president of research for Americans for the Arts. “Even in a global economy, arts organizations are local employers. Bottom line, art [is] not just food for the soul, but putting food on the table for 2.6 million households.”

In Connecticut, the sector sustained 16,667 jobs.

“If someone you know, or an elected official, tries to tell you that the arts are merely a luxury, remind them that the arts and culture are intrinsic, not only to our national identity, but that they build and support our economy in so many powerful ways,” said recording artist and Americans for the Arts committee member Josh Groban.

The report also looked at the social impact of the arts. The AEP6 report surveyed nearly 250,000 households nationwide. Of the respondents, 86% agreed that arts and culture is important to their community’s quality of life, while 89% said arts organizations are a source of pride for the community. In Connecticut, that number was slightly lower at 87.5%. The survey also showed that in Connecticut, over 85% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

“This data clearly illustrates the enormous impact that arts, humanities and cultural organizations in the state have on our state’s economy,” said Liz Shapiro, director of Arts, Preservation & Museums at the Department of Economic and Community Development in a statement. “It is remarkable that these nonprofit organizations, the majority of which are small, generate nearly a billion dollars in economic activity — and this figure does not even include the impact of our for-profit arts ecosystem. The great takeaway from this study is that the arts are not only nice, they are necessary.”

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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